Search icon


13th Sep 2022

300% increase in children drinking reed diffuser liquids

Hugh Carr

The liquids can contain chemicals which cause harmful effects to children.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) are calling on parents to keep reed diffuser liquids out of reach following a 300% increase in calls surrounding children drinking the liquid.

The National Poisons Information Centre received 133 calls around reed diffuser liquids last year, an increase of nearly 300% between 2015 and 2021.

In 2020 alone, 78 children drank the liquids, with most of those children being under the age of three.

Following an investigation into 41 different brands of reed diffuser liquid, a majority of products contained relevant safety information on the outer packaging, but not on the inner bottle as required.

This can lead to a delay in appropriate medical treatment for the impacted child, as compositions of chemicals can vary from product to product, and proper identification will ensure the right care is provided.

Potential side effects of exposure to the liquids include skin reactions, long-term skin sensitisation to the contents, or harm if swallowed.

“Accidental exposure to chemicals can be very dangerous for small children and we work in close collaboration with the Health and Safety Authority alerting them to relevant incidents,” said Patricia Casey, Manager at NPIC.

“If the liquid from a reed diffuser comes into contact with the eyes it can cause pain or if swallowed, it can result in vomiting, cough or drowsiness. It can also cause a rash if it comes into contact with the skin.

“Our advice is for parents, grandparents and childminders to keep reed diffusers out of reach and to read the safety information on the label.

“In case of accidental exposure, if the liquid is swallowed rinse as much of the liquid as possible from the mouth with water and do not to induce vomiting.

“If it comes into contact with the skin, wash thoroughly. If it gets into the eyes, rinse carefully with water for 10-15 minutes.”

If your child comes into contact with the liquid, contact the NPIC on 01 809 2166 to seek advice about potential medical attention.